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Cabin 10 Restored My Faith and Challenged Me To Live Unlimited

July 26, 2016
Paddleboarding

 

I hate camping, but I love summer camp. Zooey Deschanel

Summer camp was always a thing for me, and my thoughts on this topic go back as far back as I can remember. It was August in Texas, and my mom was pregnant with my sister when my parents sent me off to camp for the first time (an act that now, as an adult, I clearly understand in its full light of desperation and brilliance). I was eight at the time, and I was hooked from that point on.

I never went to a fancy camp that I could name drop in a job interview or anything… in fact, the camp I went to was called Highland Lakes Encampment (that’s right, it had the word “Encampment” in the title)…but even in its basic, unfancy (encampment) offerings, there was something magic about going into a completely different space, especially as a kid from a small town, and being around lots of other kids my age doing camp things that expanded and evolved my perspectives. In short, I’m fairly certain that camp changed my wiring for the better.

Right about the time I had been thinking about the whole camp-makes-you-a-better-person concept and my social media feeds started reporting on kids packing up trunks for weeks away, I received an invitation to visit an MDA Summer Camp in Georgia with Christine Koh, Jill Krause and Denene Millner.

I replied yes before I even finished reading the email.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t know anything about MDA, because between all the kids going to camp in my Facebook feed, there was a strong and steady, constant, unending stream of unfathomable and overwhelming bad news that my brain isn’t wired to process. I needed to get outside. I needed a camp.

So I went to MDA Camp just outside of Atlanta.

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When I met these ladies in Atlanta and we started the hour-long drive to the middle of the forest, we inevitably started processing through a number of things going on in our world right now. I think it’s fair to say we are all a bit overwhelmed. There are so many current human problems that need human responses (human responses that are too often nowhere to be found), and we lamented that we felt low in energy and limited by what we could do.

Then we pulled up to Camp.

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The first thing that hit me was whoa, this camp is way nicer than the crappy encampment that I went to. But that’s where the dissimilarities ended.  The smell of camp, a visceral olfactory memory of fresh outdoor shady comfort, hit me at once…and it felt right. It felt true and wholesome and all the things you want kids to feel and smell and experience. It felt good.

I started breathing it in.

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As someone who travels too much for work, I don’t usually fully comprehend what I’m about to do until I’m there, in the middle of it. And sure, I was given a ton of facts and overviews about what was happening, but it wasn’t until we arrived at MDA Summer Camp that I realized I had no real idea about what to expect. What would the kids be like? What would they be doing? What could they be doing?

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It was very early in the day, it was really quiet and there were no kids anywhere. Someone let us know that they were in their cabins getting ready for breakfast, so we waited in the dining hall, where I found another difference from my 1970s encampment. I have no recollection of what we ate 100 years ago when I was a camper, but I’m 100% sure that it wasn’t “Farm to Table.” And this camp completely is, like, it has an actual farmer. His name is Nathan.

While we waited for the kids, I read the signs on the wall which actually were conversation starters: What’s your favorite joke? What activity are you most looking forward to? What superpower would you want?

But, as it turns out, these kids didn’t need help starting conversations. In a rush of energy, almost 100 campers, ranging in age from 6-17, and their 100+ volunteer counselors came into the joint, it was all  just as I remembered it: loud, joyful, energetic, and LOUD! They quickly gathered together, ate, and then started doing a complicated ritual of banging songs into tables morphed into challenges, affirmations, announcements, spirit awards, cabin shout outs (To Josh in Cabin 12 who caught a fish; To Armando in Cabin 3 for going down the waterslide 20 times; to Paul in Cabin 11 for being a Cutie Patootie). And then the next thing I knew trays were systematically put away and kids were walking, running and wheeling out in every direction. One girl was wearing a smaller version of the same Nirvana shirt that I’d slept in the night before. I wish I’d kept it on. Another little kid had on a “Not Braggin, Just Swaggin” shirt, and I decided he would be my new best friend.

 

cafeteriaThe counselors’ meeting started right about then, they briefly introduced us and I found out I was assigned to Cabin 10. But there was work to be done, and so they kept plotting out the day, discussing with impressive specificity an understanding of individuals and needs by name. They’d only been here three days and they already seemed to know everyone and I mean everyone.

Turns out, it’s all very individualized. One camper to one counselor. This seems almost impossible, but it’s true. And that means there are a lot of volunteers because this summer MDA Summer Camp will provide thousands of kids with muscular dystrophy and related muscle-debilitating diseases “the best week of the year.” There are nearly 75 weeklong summer camps across the country (four in Texas) — offered at no charge to families (totally free) — to give kids with limited muscle strength and mobility a life-changing experience in an environment without barriers.

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It costs $2,000 to send a child to MDA Summer Camp (which includes all associated expenses that make a safe, healthy and enriching camp experience possible). And their goal is to send 20,000 kids to camp by the year 2020.

So here’s how it works.

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These kids are here to defy limits.

For some it’s a stretch to play soccer. For some, it seems impossible to swim or to ride a horse or to catch a fish. They’ve been told all of those things are not possible for them.

MDA disagrees.

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Meet Cabin 10. They are not here for your limits.

And after spending time with all these girls, I now agree with that disagreement. These girls can do anything. I know this. They showed me.

Hanley and Maddie

Meet counselor Hanley and one of the campers in my cabin. It’s their eighth and fifth years at camp respectively. They have been paired up every year since Hanley started coming, and they are a team. They are also two of the happiest, friendliest and most upbeat people I’ve been around in years. In. Years.

They were so open and welcoming to me and brought me right into the Cabin 10 fold. Hanley says that’s just what happens. She experienced it first hand when her brother Hunter, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (the most common and the most severe form of MD) (It affects about 1 out of every 3,500 boys), attended this camp. He was diagnosed when he was four, with an original diagnosis to live until he was 20. He’s 20 now (and currently in college) with a doubled life expectancy thanks to progress and preventative medication. I’m sure amazing family support has something to do with that too. Other sister, Joanna, is also a counselor in Cabin 10.  

Hanley’s camper quickly let me know she was up for anything. “I’ve already done everything and I’m ready to do it all again. It’s my 8th year here and I still am not bored.”

Since I’d only been at camp about an hour at that point, I could only believe her and also inquired what “everything” was. “Oh you’ll see,” she said. “Yesterday I flew.”

What?

Hanley was quick to confirm that this was true. “There’s always a way.”

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Then we were all at the giant pool where they were blasting the song of the summer (Justin Timberlake) followed by a Justin Beiber song (the good one).  The kids were being typical kids at the pool. Some swam, some slid, and there was always someone (or lots of someones) there and ready to coach or carry or catch.

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See that superhero standing by the pool? Whoa. A.) I think he might be an American Gladiator. B.) In a matter of minutes, I watched him carry at least 25 kids to exactly where they wanted to go, including to the very top of the slide.

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Some individualized to quieter spots. This is where I meet a volunteer named Adam. A friend of the family originally told him about MDA Summer Camp when he was 17, he then volunteered as a counselor and fell in love with the camp. He’s been coming here every year since, for 15 years, and now he and his wife Lindsay (who is a physical therapist) live in Charlotte, but take time off of work and fly in from Charlotte to come.

He told me that earlier in the week he asked an 8-year-old boy in his cabin what superpower he wished for.  The camper’s answer: “Super Strength. So I can move my house to camp.”

Live Unlimited

This is the part of the story where I admit to you that I straight-up started tearing up not once, but five different times while standing by a swimming pool blasting Cake by the Ocean. And this is not because there was anything sad going on. It’s because I found (first hand, in real time, right in front of my face) the humanity that I’d been missing for months, and the energy I’d been needing from humans. These 8-year-olds are not here for your nonsense. Or your limits.

They are here to live unlimited. Watch them.

 

 

Along with MDA, they are fighting to make today free from the harm of muscle-debilitating diseases and tomorrow free from the diseases themselves. They have no time for negativity. They have no patience for limits. They have no interest in “can’t.” And they are inspiring. They inspired me to pull myself out of the negative feed and back into Ssummer Camp.

Then they inspired me last week to go to SoulCycle. But that’s a completely different story.

Any time you reach beyond your limits, whether they have been set by someone around you or yourself, you are achieving a #LiveUnlimited moment. Visit mda.org/LiveUnlimited to create a personalized image you can share to social that shows your #LiveUnlimited moment. For every #LiveUnlimited moment shared through July 31, 2016, a generous partner will donate $5 to MDA, up to $30,000.

Together, they will show the world that our limits don’t define us. To every doubter and every “you can’t do that,” they say, “watch us.”

Zip-Line-5Adam gets all of this. He told me his group was going to go flying that afternoon at 4 pm and encouraged me to show up and see.

Zip line 2When we arrived we found that all five of the young men in Adam’s cabin were preparing to go on the zipline. All five.

Zip Line 4This 13-year-old boy volunteered to go first. “I want to fly like superman.”

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After being securely harnessed in, the camper climbs to the top. After he steps out of the ledge, a voice from below says, “Don’t be scared, You can do it. Let’s countdown.”

He responds, “Let’s not. Let’s just go.”

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He steps off the platform into the nothingness and he just goes.

He flies.

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Adam is waiting at the end of the zipline with his chair. Marvin, a 22-year-old college student at Georgia Southern, catches his camper and helps him off the zipline.

Adam and Marvin

Marvin and Adam

Marvin is here all summer and he loves his job.

“My job is really just to let these kids be kids,” Marvin says as we wait for the next camper to come down. “There are kids here who have never been in water before…and they’re paddle boarding over there. There are kids here who can’t move on their own…but in the pool, they can move their bodies how they want to and where they want to go. There are kids who can’t walk…but on the zipline, they’re flying.”

Zip Line 12Marvin kept going. “We just let them do things that people have told them they can’t do. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s not about ability or disability, it’s about overcoming fear. It’s about doing things you don’t think you can do. And that’s what they do. Every single day.”

Girls

While I was at the Zipline Hanley and two Cabin 10 Campers came down to say goodbye before they got ready for the dance that night.

“So what do you think?” Hanley asked.

I told them, “you girls have restored my faith…it’s hard to put into words. And the irony of that is…that’s exactly why I’m here, to put what you are doing into words.”

Hanley, ever the optimistic counselor, was unfazed and encouraging. “You’re going to be so surprised when you sit down to write it. I bet you’ll be proud of yourself. Everyone who comes to MDA Summer Camp ends up proud of themselves.”

She has a point. And she makes a point. We should all feel so lucky and so proud.

Here’s How You Can Support MDA Right Now.

  • Create your #LiveUnlimited image at mda.org/LiveUnlimited. For each image shared through July 31, a generous sponsor is donating $5 to MDA, up to $30,000, to support research, programs and services like MDA Summer Camp. (People can continue to share their images after July 31, however shares will no longer be matched with a donation after that date.)
  • Support MDA families and programs like Summer Camp by buying a Live Unlimited bracelet from Endorphin Warrior at http://www.endorphinwarrior.com/live-unlimited. $6 from the sale of each bracelet goes directly to MDA to help kids like those I met at Summer Camp.
  • Support MDA Summer Camp by making a donation at mda.org and/or learn how you can become a summer camp volunteer counselor.

This post was sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. All views and editorial are mine.

SXSW con Queso: Picks & Minimal Recommendations From A Local

March 11, 2016

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We’ve seen an extraordinarily large number of unnecessarily complicated guides to Austin and SXSW this year…so so many write ups on the must-dos, must-sees, must-drinks, ad nauseam…most from people who don’t live in Austin. Most from people trying to be as “cool and as real as it gets”  and give you a list of 200 things YOU MUST DO in the 27 waking hours you are in town.

On the other hand, here’s a really short list adapted from a post we did a couple of years ago. Not much has changed but some things have…including our picks for SXSW 2016. Enjoy!

A few friends have asked what to expect from SXSW this year, what to do, who to see. And I say you’ll for sure see these people.   You should also get far away from that and go to our pick for Best Maker Event: SX CREATE presented by Dremel. And Best Empowerment Event: The #SpeakBeautiful Effect with Dove and Twitter. 

In addition, an exhaustive list of other official free events is right here. 

Beyond that, I don’t really care. But while you’re here, I would suggest that you look into a few, more localized activities. Things like this:

1. Get Some of The Best Queso in Austin. Here are my suggestions. I could talk more about this and I’m happy to. But you can’t really go wrong with most places in town so you’re probably fine no matter what. You’ll be especially pleased if you get your cheese from somewhere where there are no lines and whose name you can’t really pronounce.


2. Go See My Cousin’s Band. I’m not even kidding. That’s him right in the middle there. They are called Chasca, they are local, and they are awesome + beyond entertaining. Trust me. You won’t be sure what you are watching, but you won’t be disappointed.

There are two Chasca shows this first WEEKEND! Friday they play with girling at Hard Luck Lounge from 9-10 pm. Saturday they play with Alien Knife Fight at The Highball Austin at 11:30 pm. No cover. Have fun.

Photo of (from left) Keith Schmidt, Susie Schmidt-Franks, Chad Franks and John Fullilove courtesy of Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.

3. Go To My Favorite BBQ Spot In Town. Don’t wait in a six-hour line for meat.  Schmidt Family Barbecue  is the cousin child of the legendary Kreuz Market and Smitty’s BBQ in Lockhart. Here’s more. To sum up, the new joint is from the next generation of cousins from the ultimate BBQ family of Texas. It’s closer to town, in Bee Cave. And it’s worth the drive from downtown. Go. (Also, PS, I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but The Salt Lick is in no way the best BBQ in town. Not even close. And Franklin’s is worth the wait normally…but not the wait this week.)

4. Go Outside. This is especially important if you are from anywhere north of Waco. But wherever you come from, get away from downtown. Go to Barton Springs. Or Deep Eddy. Or the Kite Festival. Or Mount Bonnell. Or just really anywhere that’s not a line flowing into a parking lot.

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5. Go to Mozart’s for Coffee.  Go to Hula Hut for chips, salsa and margs on the deck. Go to Taco Deli for tacos and to Matt’s El Rancho for enchiladas and to Maudie’s for anything else. If you want fancy food, go to Counter 3. Five. VII. or Lenoir or Uchi (or, even better, Uchiko). If you don’t want fancy food, go to Ramen Fukuya. Catch a movie at Alamo Draft House. Don’t go to any of those ridiculous donut places. If you need donuts, go to KC Donuts. And go to Lick for ice cream. You won’t be disappointed. An none of those places will have SXSW lines.

Enjoy our town. It gets better the further away you move from the convention center. Trust us on this.

Soundtrack: That’s Right. By this smart guy with really great hair from Klein, Texas. 

SXSW con Queso // BEST EMPOWERMENT EVENT: DOVE Raises the Level of Conversation & Brings Its New #SpeakBeautiful Technology to SXSW.

March 10, 2016
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It’s no secret that we are fans of Dove. They are long time partners in the Mom 2.0 Summit. And frankly, we just really like their mission, their people and their products.

We also like that they are actively working to raise the conversation about conversation online.

According to research commissioned by Dove, eight out of 10 women have seen negative comments in conversations about other women’s looks on social media. And four out of every five negative tweets about beauty and body image are written by women critiquing themselves. That’s why they teamed up to launch #SpeakBeautiful, a campaign encouraging women to be more positive when tweeting about beauty and body image. Well, that and because it’s about time. And it seems they are always the go-to group to make things happen.

“Ideas and opinions about body image are now fluidly shared every second through social feeds, and sometimes we do not fully realize the resounding impact of the words in even one post,” Jennifer Bremner, Dove’s Director of Marketing, said. “We can positively change the way future generations express themselves online.”

So that’s what they are rolling up to Austin with…a lot of smart women, positive vibes, good manners and beautiful words…all things SXSW could do well to embrace … and we say bravo! All around.

Dove has designed this SXSW event for those looking for a very cool, interesting discussion on women’s empowerment and online harassment with an inspiring panel of trailblazers.

Saturday, March 12, 1 – 3 pm. Trinity Hall. (See more details in the above image.)

We wouldn’t miss it.

RSVP to the SXSW event here. 

Find out more about the Dove campaign here.

Empathy Cards

February 4, 2016
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Emily McDowell makes really funny cards, but I believe my favorites of hers are those of the Empathy variety. Because it’s true that I am the worst when it comes to knowing what to say in a crappy situation. But then I listen to those talking in a crappy situation and often, they’re the worst too. Sometimes not. But often.

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I don’t have bad feelings for anyone saying anything though, because we’re all just trying our best to stumble through and most of us have no idea what we are talking about. We just try in different ways. I try to not say anything dumb.

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It seems our collective awkwardness gets turned up to 11 whenever someone is diagnosed with something terrible. Or is suddenly put in the hospital. Or well, there are like 5,000 other situations where we all get weird. And now, we have cards to proactively help us be less lame. Thank you, Emily McDowell.

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Today is World Cancer Day, an annual event that unites the globe in the fight against cancer. The campaign is designed to raise awareness and education about the disease, to encourage action to save millions of preventable deaths each year.

You can buy Emily McDowell’s Empathy Cards here. 

TBT: Winter Solstice Dinner

December 17, 2015
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Winter Solstice has many associated traditions…Sadly, they’re all pretty bleak. Like the bleak midwinter they honor. But a few years ago we had a Winter Solstice Dinner and it was quite lovely. Here’s a Throwback to some a few of our Winter Solstice Dinner Feast and some of our favorite Winter Solstice treats.

Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup

Yuletide Yule Wreath

Peppered Guinness Roast Beast with Parsnips and Figs

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

All these work great for a Winter Solstice meal, or I think I’ll be making a few of them for Christmas this year.

Merry Yuletide!

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What to Plant In December

December 10, 2015
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Although we haven’t even started the Twelve Days of Christmas, I’m already thinking about Valentines Day…I mean, when it comes to gardening, that is. The things you plant around here* in December mostly remind me of pinks and fragrants. Roses for clipping, strawberries for dipping, you get the gist. Throw in some onions and spinach for a Mardi Gras salad, and you’re good to go. So let’s get going.

What to Plant Decemberber

 

Roses.  This is a new one for me. I’ve never actually been tempted to plant roses before because before they look amazing, they look pretty bleak. Also, borderline ugly. But there’s a whole metaphor in there somewhere, and if 2016 is going to be coming up roses, now’s the time to make that happen. Here’s an overview on how to plant roses.  And here are the top ten roses for a Texas garden.

Onions. These are really easy to plant and grow…and you always need them. Just get your starters at your favorite seed/bulb supply or big box hardware store’s nursery department. They can help you. Or read more here. Basically you just put the starters/bulbs in the ground and get out of the way. You’ll have a ton ready to go before Easter.

Lavender. I think this is most decadent herb. And it grows really well in Central Texas, home of the Blanco Lavender Festival in Blanco, Texas, and a Lavender Festival at Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas.  It does okay in North Texas and not so great the Gulf Coast region. But if you can get it going, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Here’s how to plant lavender.

Strawberries. Early next month the Queso gang is headed to strawberry central. And I am inspired. I’ve tried strawberries a few times and it’s never really worked out, but I’ve never tried them this early. I hear that is the key. Let’s see.

Spinach. Spinach is a great companion plant for strawberries. And it’s the green staple that likes to be transplanted a little bit later than all its green cousins. You’ll need it all spring. To be big and strong. 

So skip ahead a few holidays, stop thinking about fudge and start thinking about chocolate…to cover all your strawberries. Merry Valentines!

*This is written for zones 7-9

Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle

December 8, 2015
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My friend Allison gave me this recipe. I made it for Thanksgiving and it was swell. I think it works really well for any December gathering. Check it.

December Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle

 1 – 14 oz. package gingerbread mix
1 – 5.1 oz. box “cook and serve” vanilla pudding mix
1 – 30 oz. can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 – 12 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup gingersnaps

Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cinnamon in to the pudding. Crumble one batch of gingerbread into the bottom of the trifle bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps. Refrigerate overnight.

IMG_3812 (1)That’s it. It’s super easy, looks great and tastes so good. File it under EASY. Enjoy.

TTYL: The Things You’ll Love This Week (The Holidays Are ON!)

December 7, 2015
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Happy Holiday Season! We have been moving slowly in a Thanksgiving hangover but things are speeding up as we’re sliding into the end of the year. We have a lot in store as we are in and out of stores and up to our eyeballs in chores and oh my gosh, you totally know what we are talking about, right? Right. But we are hopped up on sugar now and we are ready to give you that which you’ll love.

This week, here are The Things You’ll Love:sugar
  1. Sugar. ‘Tis the season. And we’re already getting a little punchy. Tomorrow we’re going to talk about a great (and easy) Holiday sugar rush dish to throw together and consume with a spoon. In one sitting, possibly. We’ll also show you what happens when you do that.vegetables
  2. Vegetables. To counterbalance the sugar. Because, as we mentioned, we’re getting a little punchy. We’re going to talk about what vegetables to plant (and harvest) this month and what to do with them.magnolia
  3. Magnolia Market. Waco is the new black, which is hilarious, and also true almost completely because of Chip and Joanna Gaines, who I swear are more sick of hearing their names than we are. (Every time someone says “Chip and Jo,” a popcorn ceiling is replaced with shiplap, somewhere. Only people who watch HGTV and/or are renovating a house will get that or care. But the rest of you should know about this culture phenom and super cool business story.) I’d read about Joanna Gaines on Gabrielle’s blog a long time ago but I’d never seen the resulting HGTV show until this last weekend, after I visited Magnolia Market. And I’ll tell you all about that on Wednesday.gift
  4. Gift boxes. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. We talked about an Austin-based boxed set a couple of weeks ago and we have two different cool box options to share this week.Tameca
  5. Good music. Whether its the best Seasonal Playlist we’ve heard in a while or a new Texas artist you should have on your playlist right now…we have some auditory delights coming your way later in the week.

We also have a few extra treats that we’ve been teasing you with (and completely holding out on you) but this is the week. So buckle up, settle in, grab some sugar and let’s do this. December!

 

 

 

TTYL: THE THINGS YOU’LL LOVE (This Thanksgiving Week)

November 23, 2015
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Happy Thanksgiving Week! And happy the last week of November (whoa), which means it’s essentially Holiday Season (Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas!) and 2016 (Happy New Year!) but before we get ahead of ourselves…Thanksgiving! Our favorite American holiday is this week, and we’re ready to party with food and gratitude, because this week also marks the last week of our November NYC, food & gratitude fest, and we are going to end it with a bang.

Last week, we delivered a few of our favorite spots in NYC, some throwback recipes from Thanksgivings past, a boxed set Coterie Sampler you’ll want to know about (and we’ll feature another box this week as well), and finally, Tish wrote a great piece about a Low-Maintenance and/or Lazy Parents’ Guide to Guiding Art Projects. And while we planned to compare and contrast Hand to God and Hamilton by the end of the week, we completely did not. Not at all. We’ll do that this week instead, well before the Thanksgiving Parade begins, and speaking of that, here’s what else you’ll love.

This week, here are The Things You’ll Love:

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  1. Cheese. This week might be all about turkey, but really, it (and every other week) is all about cheese. We’re going to talk about our favorite cheese shops in NYC…and our favorite in Austin too. Photo credit: Antonelli’s Cheese Shop (that may or may not be a spoiler alert)2
  2. A New York City Restaurant Guide. Because you may want to eat things besides cheese. Maybe. mandarin-hotelNY
  3. A New York City Hotel Guide. Because you gotta stay somewhere. Probably.12
  4. More talk about food. Because while this week may be about tackling your fellow humans for discounts on electronics made in China, it’s also about food. Oh and gratitude.3
  5. Practical ways to help you and yours practice gratitude all year long. Before Black Friday and Red Cup December, comes a few days that we gather together to give thanks. We’ll also offer a few ideas how we are going to take this week into next year and attempt to practice gratitude all year long. Join us.

NYC: A Few of Our Favorite Spots

November 23, 2015
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Photo Credit: Karen Walrond

This month we’ve been highlighting a number of swell haunts in New York City, and related to that, we offer you a quick list of New York state of mind favorites from the Contributors con Queso. Check it.

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Wendi Aarons

I love just walking for blocks and blocks and blocks until my feet say “stop.”

 

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Jenny Lawson

My favorite thing in New York is Obscura Antiques and Collectables.  It’s a weird shop filled with taxidermy and exploded skulls and things that most people find in attics and are haunted by forever.  I bought a dead bird there once and they were very careful to give me a napkin to hold it with because it was covered in arsenic.  I highly recommend.

 

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Laura Mayes

The spots I have to hit change every year, but right now I’d want to start the day at Two Hands for breakfast, and then I’d just walk forever….west on Grand for 10 blocks to Thompson street north, through Washington Square Park, that turns into 5th Avenue and keep going north 100 blocks through the entirety of Central Park. Then I’d probably hang in the park, read and people watch all afternoon and head back down, stopping at the Richard Rodgers Theater at 5:55, when I’d go to the Ham4Ham show and no doubt win $10 tickets to see Hamilton that night. After the show, I’d go to Roberta’s in Brooklyn for pizza. Then back over to Pearl Street and Fraunces Tavern for a gin & tonic. The end. Amen.

 

Elizabeth

Photo Credit: Elizabeth McGuire

Elizabeth McGuire
The Irish Hunger Memorial (in Battery Park City). A lovely, thoughtfully designed piece of Irish countryside right in the middle of the city. Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Central Park near a dog park. It feels very relaxed and local, and if you are a tourist missing your dog at home it’s nice to get a little fix here. The courtyard at the MOMA. A beautiful, tree-filled escape when you’ve been walking in and out of museums all day.

 

Tom's_Restaurant,_NYC
Kristin Paull
I always ALWAYS plan lunch for myself at the top of Bergdorf Goodman. I feel like a fancy lady, and treat myself to a glass of champagne.  I buy a scarf, a Christmas ornament or a lip gloss to take home my purple bag.  Bonus if the Holiday windows are up! I grab a coffee and breakfast at City Bakery before hitting ABC Carpet and Home.  I love the first floor, and always feel inspired there. We do brunch in Brooklyn at Talde- best brunch ever…anywhere! Our current favorite dinner spot is Red Farm.  Go early and eat lots! Of course, I love the MOMA, a walk through Central Park, shopping in SOHO and a show on Broadway.

 

highline02

Photo Credit: Karen Walrond

Karen Walrond
The High Line is a 1-mile long linear park in New York City, built along — get this — a long-abandoned, defunct elevated railway. It’s an amazingly beautiful pathway, filled with lush vegetation and colourful wildflowers, as well as musicians and other buskers, art installations, and some of the coolest views of the lower west side of Manhattan. Read more here.
Empire-State-at-Night

Photo Credit: Laurie White

Laurie White
New York…Everything, that’s all. The top of the Empire State Building at night. Super touristy. Perfect. Walking out of Penn Station from the train onto 7th Avenue is like the first time, every time. Anything can happen now. Walking for hours and never seeing the same great thing I’ll try never to forget twice.

 

So what about you? What are we missing? Go old school and leave us a comment here on the blog like it’s 2006. What is your favorite thing to do in NYC?